Get screened - don't ignore the warning signs of colon cancer
Jessica Brewer, LMH Health
Lindsey Hoover wasn’t feeling quite right, experiencing some gastrointestinal symptoms that were off from her norm. At age 40, she thought she was much too young to be concerned about colon cancer and didn’t think much of it.
During a visit with her family physician, Hoover mentioned her symptoms. The physician went over her family history and recommended a visit to Dr. Stuart Thomas, a gastroenterologist with Lawrence GI Consultants.
“I met with Dr. Thomas and he told me I needed to get scheduled for a colonoscopy,” Hoover said. “I tried to convince him of all the reasons why I should not have this procedure done. He talked with me about the warning signs he was seeing and reasons he thought we should have this checked out.”
Hoover scheduled her appointment before she left the visit, but that didn’t stop her apprehension about having it done. She couldn’t possibly need to get screened so early. Shouldn’t she have another 10 years before having to worry about this?
“As I was about to begin the prep the day before the procedure, I decided I was too busy, I had too much going on and I was going to call and cancel,” Hoover said. “It hadn’t hit me yet that I was going to have a colonoscopy and I didn’t want the hassle.”
Hoover ultimately decided not to cancel and it’s lucky for her that she didn’t. Following the procedure, Dr. Thomas told Hoover and her husband that he had found and removed seven polyps in her colon. Colon polyps are growths in your large intestine that can turn into colon cancer over time. When caught early and removed, the risk of colon cancer decreases significantly.
“Dr. Thomas made it clear that this was much higher than normal for someone my age,” Hoover said. “Dr. Thomas told me that I very likely extended the longevity of my health by acting early and having a colonoscopy. Because he was able to remove the polyps, we were likely able to prevent colon cancer.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that among men and women, colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. 140,000 people are diagnosed each year and over 50,000 people die from the disease. Although 90% of colon cancers are found in adults 50 years and older, having a family history of the disease can drive down the age of those affected.
“I think that it is important to mention that after the procedure, all the symptoms I was experiencing resolved,” Hoover said.
Hoover had heard all of the horror stories about preparing for a colonoscopy and was absolutely dreading it. Though it wasn’t ideal, she did not have a bad experience.
“I received wonderful instructions in my prep packet and the people at Lawrence GI Consultants made sure I fully understood what to do,” Hoover said. “Before I knew it, the prep was over and I was on my way to the procedure.”
The comfort and care did not stop there. Hoover said she had a very similar experience when she came to LMH Health for her colonoscopy.
“Dr. Thomas asked if I had any last-minute questions and each person made me feel comfortable before, during and after the procedure,” she said.
Several colon screening options are offered. Talk with your doctor about which screening may be right for you and discuss any family history of colon cancer that could increase your risk.
Only two-thirds of adults in the United States are up-to-date with their colon screenings. If you experience symptoms such as unexpected weight loss, persistent stomach pain or blood in your stool, talk with your physician. When polyps are found, they can almost always be removed immediately. This decreases your chances of developing colon cancer and increases your chances of staying healthier longer.
“I’d tell someone who is going to have a colonoscopy that it’s not as bad as you think,” Hoover said. “Get your instructions, follow them to a T and when you get to the hospital the next day, let LMH Health take care of you. You’ll be home before you know it.”
Jessica Brewer is the social media and digital communications specialist at LMH Health.